Races tighten in both leagues
This weekend presented a chance for the league leaders to make up some ground against their closest pursuers, but it hasn’t worked out that way.
The Hanshin Tigers lost for the second straight day to the DeNA BayStars on Saturday, while the Yomiuri Giants have won two straight to replace the Yakult Swallows in second place and are now 3-1/2 games back.
After a loss and a tie, the Orix Buffaloes find themselves in a flat-footed tie with the Rakuten Eagles for the Pacific League lead with 35-29-9 records. The SoftBank Hawks, who’ve dropped two straight to the Eagles, are two back in third place.
Eagles 3, Hawks 2
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, SoftBank got two rookie Rakuten pitchers for the price of one. Koichi Takada, the Eagles’ second pick last autumn, made his pro debut but hit a batter in the head with two outs, triggering a “kikenkyu” – dangerous ball — automatic ejection. Less heralded rookie Naoto Nishiguchi (1-0), the Eagles’ 10th pick in 2016, stepped into the breach, stranded two runners, and allowed one run over 4-1/3 innings to earn his first pro win.
Hawks starter Nick Martinez (5-2) allowed a leadoff single, issued a one-out walk, and hit a batter with two outs to load the bases for Eigoro Mogi who cleared the bases with a triple.
Martinez escaped serious trouble in the third by starting this nifty double play, and got an assist from Hiroaki Shimauchi, who was thrown out by a mile at the plate to end the inning.
The visitors scored in the first after a Takada issued a one-out walk and allowed a Yuki Yangita single that Shimauchi fumbled in left field. Nishiguchi retired the first seven batters he faced, including a third inning in which he struck out the side, finishing with Yanagita. Ryoya Kurihara led off the fourth with his ninth home run, but the Hawks had no answer for the Eagles bullpen. Yuki Matsui finished up with his 20th save.
Buffaloes 3, Lions 3
At Osaka‘s Kyocera Dome, Kaima Taira was charged with no runs for a 36th straight game to seal the tie after his second walk put two on with one out in the ninth. Yoshihisa Hirano gave Orix a chance to walk off with a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.
Takahiro Okada’s second RBI single tied the game in the Buffaloes’ two-run seventh after Lions starter Tatsuya Imai allowed a run over six innings. The Lions took a 2-1 lead in the third on a two-run homer by rookie Sena Tsuge, who got the start with No. 1 catcher Tomoya Mori out hurt and his backup, Masatoshi Okada, getting dinged on Friday.
Marines 3, Fighters 1
At Shizuoka’s Kusanagi Stadium, Daiki Iwashita (6-4) pitched out of a second-inning jam to hold Nippon Ham to a run over six innings, and Lotte came back against
Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-3), tying it when Brandon Laird doubled home Shogo Nakamura. Laird was gunned down trying to score the go-ahead run on a great throw from rookie Fighters center fielder Chusei Mannami.
Katsuya Kakunaka singled in the go-ahead run in the fifth, and a Nakamura sac fly made it 3-1. Three relievers, Frank Herrmann, Chihaya Sasaki and Naoya Masuda finished up for the Marines. Masuda recorded his 18th save.
Giants 10, Swallows 3
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, the Yomiuri Giants have sped through and over the Yakult Swallows for the second straight day. A day after a big two-run homer, Takumi Oshiro doubled in two runs to tie it 2-2 in the second against Yasuhiro Ogawa (6-3), who allowed six runs over 2-1/3 innings. Hayato Sakamoto broke the tie with a third-inning RBI single, and Takumi Kitamura capped the inning with a three-run homer, his second.
Shosei Togo (8-3) allowed three runs, two earned, over 6-2/3 innings.
BayStars 3, Tigers 1
At Koshien Stadium, DeNA rookie Kosuke Sakaguchi (2-1) allowed a run over six innings, and leadoff man Masayuki Kuwahara brought the BayStars from behind with his sixth homer, a two-run shot in the seventh off reliever Masayuki Oyokawa (1-1). Edwin Escobar, Yasuaki Yamasaki and Kazuki Mishima each worked a scoreless inning to seal the visitors’ second straight win at Koshien. Mishima’s save was his 13th.
Tigers starter Masashi Ito left after five-plus scoreless innings.
Carp 11, Dragons 5
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, the Carp went to town against Chunichi lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (5-3), tagging him for six runs, five earned, over four innings, while right-hander Haruki Omichi (3-1) held the Dragons to a run through four innings before allowing four in the fifth.
Teams at home that have trouble scoring as the Carp have, often take batting practice after games. On Saturday, the Dragons bullpen alleviated that necessity by throwing batting practice over the final five innings.
Fighters vs Marines: Kusanagi Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Dragons: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT
Active roster moves 6/26/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/6